Every year we anticipate certain events – the first rains, the first migratory birds etc.
One of the biggest events though, is the arrival of the first impala lamb. Some go so far as to place friendly bets on what date the first one will be seen. By some I refer to Head Ranger, James Souchon, who estimated the 10th November this year – close but no cigar…
This year, the date of the first sighting was the 9th November. Only a few hours old, it was a heart-warming sighting indeed!
When we found it, it was lying curled up in the shade amongst some long grass along the banks of a dry riverbed. This is a typical habitat for an impala to give birth, away from the herd. After a short while, the mother would rejoin the herd with the lamb, once it is strong enough to move around and even run with the group. Amazingly, a lamb can stand up within about 10-15 minutes of being born, with the ability to run just minutes after that. This advanced development at birth is an essential adaption to avoid predation. In contrast, predators’ young are born completely helpless and most are blind for their first week of life – hence the reason for using dens.
From today onwards, the bush will begin to be filled with hundreds of impala lambs. The birthing period lasts about three to four weeks, in which almost all the lambs are born. Survival is tough as an individual lamb, hence the reason for synchronised breeding, ensuring the success of the population as a whole. Now we await the arrival of the first wildebeest calves and – arguably the cutest of the lot – the first warthog piglets!
Take a look at the video of the impala lamb below: